The normal functioning of ordinary bodily functions is something that we tend to take for granted on a daily basis and unless it is disrupted by injury or illness, it is something we simply don’t think about. With this in mind, the consumption of food is one of those regular functions that not only give us the energy we need to carry on with the tasks of everyday life but can also be a source of great pleasure and satisfaction for many.
However, the seemingly simple act of eating for some is the cause of great distress, suffering and is potentially life threatening for those who suffer from what is commonly referred to as eating disorders. In fact, some studies have suggested that the morality rates from eating disorders are the highest for any psychological issue; with studies estimating a six fold increase in death than the normal population, which is larger than deaths attributed to depression.
Although this article wont be able to go into the complex theoretical ideas around the topic of eating disorders, we will be able to look the two main types of eating disorders and how counselling and psychotherapy can help with these disorders.
What is Anorexia Nervosa?
In anorexia, the individual eats nothing beyond minimal amounts of food, so body weight sometimes drops dangerously below normal levels. An individual with anorexia is never satisfied with their weight loss and the gaining of any amount of weight can cause symptoms of panic, anxiety and/or depression.
An important aspect in anorexia is its relation to the individual’s mirror image. As people close to them may see them as emaciated and unwell, the individual suffering from anorexia may see him or herself very differently in relation to their bodily image. This distortion of the self-image may also lead or had already led to a greater emphasis on strenuous and often dangerous levels of exercise in order to reach the impossible self-image the suffer has in mind.
What is Bulimia Nervosa?
In bulimia, out of control eating episodes, or binges, are followed by self-induced vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or other attempts to purge the food. The hallmark of bulimia is eating a larger amount of food, typically, more junk food than fruits and vegetables, than most people would eat under similar circumstances. Just as important as the amount of food is eaten is the fact that the eating is experienced as out of control.
Another important criterion is that the individual attempts to compensate for the binge eating and potential weight gain, almost always by techniques of purging. Techniques include self-induced vomiting immediately after eating or the use of laxatives or diuretics and in some cases, both methods.
Counselling for Eating Disorders
As was noted at the start of this short article, anorexia and bulimia are very serious conditions that are potentially life threatening and cause great suffering and distress for those who suffer from these conditions and for loved ones around them. For some people who suffer from these conditions, hospitalization is sometimes required for some serious cases in collaboration with counselling and psychotherapy.
Counselling and psychotherapy for eating disorders can be a highly effective and often necessary part of the treatment for anorexia and bulimia. The professional and expert help with these difficulties that are provided through the counselling process can help you to get onto the road to recovery.
If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, please know that help for this debilitating condition is available. I am available for counselling and psychotherapy for issues and difficulties related to eating disorders in Melbourne.
Eating Disorder Counselling Melbourne
Paul Reid – Counselling & Psychotherapy